It almost goes without saying that communication lies at the root of all human development, in any context. Thus, capacity building for any form of development takes place in the context of communication practices and processes. It is with this in mind that communication experts drawn from SERVIR hubs all over the world converged in Dakar, Senegal between 16th and 19th September, 2019 for a landmark communications Exchange.
According to Devrin Weiss, the Communications Lead from the Servir Support Team, "the primary learning objective of the communications exchange was to build the capacity of hub communicators." He said this was building on the FY 2018 hub communications trainings and as part of an ongoing effort to enhance SERVIR communications globally. This activity aimed at 1) developing new technical skills for the hub communications leads to more effectively tell the SERVIR story; 2) deepening coordination across the SERVIR network through the sharing of best practices and development of joint communications campaigns, and; 3) enhancing the ability of SERVIR hubs to produce compelling impact stories through the messaging matrix and new visual story telling platforms.
The communications experts were drawn from the five SERVIR hubs: SERVIR-Eastern and Southern Africa located at the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi, Kenya; SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya hub located at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, Nepal; SERVIR-Mekong hub located at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) in Bangkok, Thailand; SERVIR-West Africa hub located at the Agriculture, Hydrology and Meteorology (AGRHYMET) Regional Center in Niamey, Niger and SERVIR-Amazonia hub located at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia. In addition, a member from the SCO communications team participated and took an active role in developing and delivering select modules of the training agenda. The training accommodated the participation of three SERVIR-West Africa consortium communications leads.
The other objectives of the technical exchange included: Telling compelling, well written/produced stories that engage audiences and reinforcing SERVIR messaging; developing and executing effective communications campaigns; Incorporating new story telling approaches, including the effective use of infographics, photos, social media, and video and managing content production effectively, including a consistent and rich story pipeline. Additionally the leads looked at identifying new areas of cooperation between Hub-SST-SCO to strengthen communications coordination across the network and understanding and consistently applying SERVIR messaging across communications platforms.
The communicators used Esri Story Maps to create basic Story Maps during the exchange. "Every good Story Map has an introduction, middle, and closing. One needs any relevant photos, media (e.g., video clips), and maps to construct a Story Map."